[nagdu] guide dog responsibilities

Pickrell, Rebecca M (IS) REBECCA.PICKRELL at ngc.com
Tue Dec 1 14:39:29 UTC 2009

Hi Chris and list. 
I am currently not using a dog. I have a two and a half year old
daughter, work full time, and at this time in my life, a guide dog is
more then I want to manage. 
As others have said, you do need to schedule the dog into your day.
Depending on your circumstances, this is not a problem. For me, it is
more then I can manage because I need to get myself ready in the
morning, get my daughter ready which may or may not involve changing her
bedding, and also make sure my husband is ready for the day. My husband
has trouble staying on task, especially in the morning so I have to make
sure he's done whatever needs to be done. If my daughter is cranky or
more playful then usual, this adds more time to the schedule. 
At night, it's much the same, though we have a bit more time to take
things easy. 
For me, I think some of the difficulty is that I engage in tasks that I
can't stop. If my daughter needs an emergency bath, or just takes longer
in the tub, I can't leave her alone to take the dog out. The same
applies for when she's eating, I am not comfortable leaving her alone in
case she were to choke or need me for something. Plus, I enjoy sitting
with her while she eats. 
We went through a period of time when she had outgrown the playpen but
had the attention span of a gnat, combined with the same mobility you
and I have. I felt that leaving her alone was not safe, and my gut
feeling proved to be correct when she randomly got hold of a nail. We
had just moved into the house, I have no idea how the nail got on the
floor, and I'm very lucky I was with her and not doing something with
the dog so I could take the nail away. Nails are prime choking size for
little ones to swallow. 
Finally, I've found that taking a dog out for a walk is fine if you have
the time. The problem is, I don't. I do on the weekends, I don't at
night. I need to get my daughter to bed, and then you can't leave a
child alone, so even though she might be sleeping peacefully, I still
need to be in the house with her. My husband could be home, though for
the first year and a half, he wasn't due to his work schedule.  Also, my
daughter's sleep time is my time to rest, sleep and our chance to have
couple time now that he's working a normal schedule. I found that both
routine as well as nonroutine vet visits were difficult to fit into my
schedule once I had my daughter, especially when she had what seemed
like an ear infection a week. My daughter being a human took precedence
over the dog, yet not taking care of the dog is also not a viable
option. Shortly after I decided to retire my dog, my dog got a skin
rash. My mom told me about it and I was thinking "Glad it's your
problem, that's one less doctor's visit I have to make, one less
condition hI have to monitor". This was when my daughter was new at
daycare and it seemed like we were living at the peditritian's office as
well as monitoring her health, giving antibiotics, calming a fussy kid,
stuff like that, stuff that can wear you out too.
You need to think about your activities and figure out if they are
activities you can change and if you want to change them. 
You also need to figure out if you have the energy and inclination to
provide a dog with discipline and with excersize and with affection.
Right now, I do not. All that energy is going into my toddler and
affectionwise into my husband and friends.
As for who gets respect, I don't know. I'd be curious to know why you
think people who use dogs get more respect. Me, I've found it to be
about even. When I used a dog, I felt as you do that dog users get more
respect, now I am not so sure, and think that it has more to do with
your body language and how you feel. I do feel that I am a more
confident cane traveler now then I was before I got my first dog, and I
am at a loss to explain it. 
My best advice is to think about your life, think about your activities
and how you'd feel about interrupting your schedule to fit a dog in.
Will it drive you bonkers if the dog needs to go out and you've just
gotten back in bed after soothing a fussy toddler who woke up coughing,
something I did last night? Do you have someone who can give baths
safely and well, so you can spend time brushing the dog? Even if you do,
will you miss not giving these baths? When you go out sans child, will
you feel like the dog is another child that you must care for even
though they guide you, and will that mindset take away from your
enjoyment of time to yourself? What will you do with your dog while
you're trying to get a screaming and kicking kid into or out of a
Know too that wile I realize my daughter's current toddler phase will
soon be over, a dog will never be able to take care of themselves. They
will never be able to go make themselves a sandwich wile you explain to
a worried preschooler why an airplane flying low won't hit the house, or
celebrate that yes, her book has "a firetruck, Mommy, see the
firetruck!".These two things happened with my daughter just recently.
She is becoming less and less physically depending, and getting more and
more emotionally curious, and often when she asks a question, she wants
and needs an answer right now. I also have to figure out what exactly
her question is, and that can be tricky at times. With the airplane she
said something like "It's dark now, airplane fly in the sky, airplane
see house, Mommy"? 
I'd be curious and it may help Chris to hear from other people who are
deciding on dogs and what is influencing their choice to go ahead, or to
I'd also be curious to hear from people who worked dogs consecutively
during different phases of life, and how and why you did it, as well as
if you found it to be a bennifit or a loss.
Chris, you are wise to ask if a dog is right for you. 
Know too that you can always change your mind. Very few decitions we
make can are set for life. 
 -----Original Message-----
From: nagdu-bounces at nfbnet.org [mailto:nagdu-bounces at nfbnet.org] On
Behalf Of Sharonda Greenlaw
Sent: Monday, November 30, 2009 5:29 PM
To: NAGDU Mailing List,the National Association of Guide Dog Users
Subject: Re: [nagdu] guide dog responsibilities

It's Sharonda. And though I don't have a dog right now, I am so totally
enthused about this conversation. I haven't had a dog since June 14 and
gone back and forth about whether I should or shouldn't get another dog.

I have however filled out my application at Guide Dogs of the Desert and
awaiting their decision.

I really enjoy having a dog. Like the others have said, the interaction
bonding are marvelous. And once you are bonded with a dog, they know you
very well.

My mobility greatly increases when I have a dog--I find ways to become
active and exercise both the dog and I. I have more confidence in my
travels--though I've been told I am a very good traveler.

Chris, I think you are very smart for reviewing your options first. And
list is a great place to get support and answers.

Once again, thanks to all. This thread has truly made me smile.


On 11/30/09, Julie J <julielj at windstream.net> wrote:
> Chris,
> I've just started working with my new dog full time in the past few
> I used a cane most of the time for the two previous years and a guide
> before that.  I owner train so my experience is a bit different.
> I am a very good cane traveler.  I choose to use a guide dog because
> is what I prefer and because it is physically more comfortable for me.
> definitely think the cane is a totally respectable mobility tool.
> You asked about respect in regard to using a cane or guide dog.  I
> know that people have any different level of respect since I started
using a
> guide dog again.   I really think people are generally intimidated by
me.  I
> have found that people feel more comfortable approaching me or talking
> me since I have a dog again.  I rarely get overly helpful people with
> cane or dog.  It's always been that way for me.  It's also a very rare
> occasion when someone grabs me or tries to physically maneuver me.  I
have a
> very large lab/Boxer cross and I get loads of comments about how
> he is, but not too many people pet him without asking.
> The short answer is that I don't think the level of respect has
> but the likelihood that people will want to talk has gone up a fair
> Julie
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Sharonda Greenlaw
President (Phoenix Chapter)
National Federation of the Blind
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